Toddlers Learn Construction, Plumbing and Laying Tile at UWS Play Space

By Emily Frost on September 14, 2012 6:48am 

UPPER WEST SIDE — Blocks, puzzles and... power drills?

An indoor play-space for babies and toddlers is offering Upper West Side kids classes in the very grown-up fields of construction, brick laying and tiling, among other hands-on techniques.

Apple Seeds' 16-week class "Build It! Break It! Fix It!" offers 3- to 4-year-olds 45-minute-long lessons in plumbing, patio laying, interior and exterior painting, the use of a screwdriver, power drills and sanders, and many more skills, according to teacher Tom Delpizzo.

The class, which kicked off Tuesday, is a first for the enrichment franchise. The students learn skills like hammering nails, but using plastic tools more fitting for their age range.

The course costs between $582 and $685, depending on membership. Though the group of five girls and three boys participating in the class agreed they all lived in "tall buildings," they were puzzled about the plastic yellow hat that sat on their heads. 

"Why do we wear hard hats?" Delpizzo asked.

"So we don't get our ears dirty?" one child offered. 

Delpizzo believes the class helps expose Manhattanites to work they wouldn't otherwise do, like gardening, because "you won't typically be doing that in Manhattan." 

"I think the more real world skills they have the better," noted parent Laura Charecky, whose son Alex, 3, eagerly joined in the activities.

"You never know what they're going to be — what jobs they could do or hobbies they could have — so it's good to expose them to as much as possible."

Pamela Kaplan brought her 3-year-old daughter Megan to the "Build It! Break It! Fix It!" because her daughter "is always interested in putting stuff together. When my husband is putting together furniture, she wants to get right in the middle of it." 

At the end of class, Delpizzo gave each student a pair of safety goggles, explaining, "We wear these whenever we are welding, which is a technique we use in construction."

Jennifer Strausser, general manager of the other Apple Seeds location in Chelsea, said the class was only half full at the moment. Half of the parents present at the first meeting were just giving it a try, and there are five spots still available, she said.

The enrichment center's cooking class, however, is fully booked.

Melody Marcus said the class was perfect for her son Caleb, 4, because "he loves construction," which she admitted he got to watch plenty of this summer on the Upper West Side.

"It seems like a unique class. I don't remember seeing classes like this offered at other places."

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